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In succumbing to the mob, university presidents invite more violence

Opinion: Anti-Israel protesters employ tactics similar to those used by terrorists: increasing demands when met with weakness and playing victim when held accountable

Anti-Israel encampment at Columbia University (Photo: Michael M. Santiago / Getty Images)

Terrorism and terrorist mentality can take many forms. However, in all cases any terrorist acts according to the same strategy: using violence and intimidation to get concessions from their opponents. Their opponent gives the terrorist what they want but this not only does not quench the terrorists’ thirst but increases it.

Every demand that is heeded to the terrorists, the terrorists would up their demand and ask for more. Dealing with terrorists by accepting their ransom demands is akin to cutting off the hydra’s head - two more heads would grow instead.

The Pro-Hamas protesters on US college campuses are one kind of such terrorists. They may not murder people, but they have the same mentality, and their actions are guided by straightforward principles. They are more than willing to use force and intimidation, to force the university to heed to their demands.

They are willing to break the university code of conduct, break state law and create an environment of terror for Jews and dissenting voices. Their strategy is to wait for the university to kowtow to their violent actions, eager to return to normalcy amid minimal friction with them. The terrorists rely on their comparative advantage against their stronger opponent, their patience and willingness to create chaos, hoping that the opponent would be the first to “flinch” and lose ground in the “game of chicken.”

University administrators were unable to deal with the encampments that started popping on campuses like mushrooms after the rain, because they chose a strategy of appeasement. Acting out of foolishness or cowardice, University presidents pretended that negotiating with the very people who are violating the universities’ code of conduct would be a way to reach an understanding.

Minouche Shafik, Columbia University president, said that they “tried very hard to resolve the issue of the encampments through dialogue”, and added that many people who gathered there were largely “peaceful”.

She said that she was heartened by the protesting students’ “intelligence, thoughtfulness, and kindness”. In her address she spoke on two sides of her mouth - presenting the violent protesters and the intimidated Jews as part of “parallel realities and paralleled conversations” that “walled us off from other perspectives”.

Minouche Shafik (Photo: Mariam Zuhaib / AP)

This Orwellian language that attempts to present the violent mob that took over the campus as a reasonable “side” in a debate, using very delicate and exalting phrases, is an indication of the moral rot that Ivy League campuses have reached. This groveling to the demands of hooligans makes the universities seem even weaker than before and only incentivizes further chaos.

Another noteworthy incident was Brown University’s decision to reward the student agitators who broke the university’s code of conduct and allow 5 of them to meet members of the Corporation of Brown University “to present their arguments to divest Brown’s endowment from ‘companies that facilitate the Israeli occupation of Palestinian Territory."

The University sent the message that it was willing to avoid conflict at all costs which is an invitation for the next agitators to create chaos to get their way, without facing any consequences. The University said in a statement “Students agreed to remove the encampment and refrain from further actions that would violate Brown’s conduct code through the end of the academic year”. In other words, the terrorist students engage in racketeering in broad day light and the university is willing to obsequiously agree to the demands hoisted on it.

 The message that the Universities are sending out to mobs is that they can violate the rules and create chaos if you they are protesting for a cause they believe in, and the university will accommodate them if they cause enough trouble without facing any consequences for their actions.

Universities that have shown a stronger hand, managed to kill the beast at its infancy. The University of Florida spokesperson, Steve Orlando said in a statement that the University is “not a day care, and we do not treat protestors like children- they knew the rules. And they’ll face the consequences” and quickly invited law enforcement to remove all sorts of encampments.

The University made it very clear that it will not tolerate any instance of violation of the university’s code of conduct. These actions prevented the images of a situation that spiraled out of control in other universities which involved students taking over campus buildings. The situation should never have reached this point in the first place- images of altercation with law enforcement only serve the protestors who want to show how “oppressive” police and administrations are in their violent response.

Police arrest protesters and California State University (Photo: Etienne Laurent / AFP)

The protesters’ tactic is mirroring Hamas’ playbook- first attack, then start negotiations, stand your ground while your opponent makes concessions, increase your demands and when you face opposition play the victim card with no accountability for your actions. This strategy works only because universities have incentivized protestors in the first place.

Just like war, the quickest and shortest way to face terrorism is to understand the opponent that is facing us. A terrorist is not someone reasonable that could be negotiated with in a civil discourse, they are barbarians who will break every written and unwritten law to get their way and use the West’s liberalism, tolerance and openness against itself.

There is no way out of facing the terrorists head on, because ironically this is the way of least resistance. Any attempt at negotiation and avoiding a head on collision on puts the terrorist in a better bargaining position and makes the problem much more difficult to solve. A terrorist threat is like a debt that must be paid, the sooner one makes the payment the less interest and extra payments one would incur by dragging out the problem.

There may be one silver lining from this situation- more and more Americans are waking up to the nature of terrorism and realize that with this kind of foe there is no other strategy other than use of force, even if it goes the liberal instinct of diplomacy and negotiations.

Atar Porat is an independent author at the Israel Defense and Security Forum's (IDSF) Research Department


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